In the chaotic, crazy-busy, frantic reality that is the modern world, most of us could use a few stress management tips to help us through it.
Well look no further.
If it’s all getting a bit much and the thing you look forward to most is strengthening your relationship with your duvet and bottle of wine, it may be time to do things a little differently.
Although the following are primarily focused on helping introverts manage the world around them, these stress management tips can be used by anyone to help unwind, de-stress and get you back in the driving seat of life.
The tips are split up into sections of the 5 main causes of stress. These are: relationships, surroundings (aka environment), work, money and health.
A lack of fulfilment can also lead to feelings of stress, overwhelm or anxiety so I’ve added that in for good measure.
1. Acknowledge compliments by saying ‘thank you’.
One of the hardest things for may introverts is accepting a compliment. We generally don’t like to be in the spotlight, even in a 1-2-1 relationship.
It’s also well-known that human beings like to focus on the negatives. Therefore, even if it goes against every fibre of your being, it’s really important to acknowledge when someone is saying something positive to you. (Even if you’re not sure they were sincere!)
It sends a message of positive reinforcement to yourself and stops you from only seeing and hearing the negatives.
Yes, it’s difficult. Cringe worthy, even. But it’s important to notice the good as well as the bad otherwise we go through life only noticing the things that stress is.
A simple ‘thank you’ helps to counter that stress.
2. Write it down.
Sometimes it can be just too hard to say the things you want to out loud. If you can feel your stress levels rising because the words won’t come, then take a deep breath and write them down.
Give yourself permission to take all the time you need. Cross it out and start again if it helps. Rewrite as many times as necessary. Granting yourself this time and space will help you figure out what you really want to say and how.
3. Get rid of online, ‘noisy’ relationships.
This one will take longer than you think but it’s absolutely worth it. Delete old emails and texts you no longer need. (If it’s more than three years old isn’t financially related, do you really need it?)
Clear out old contacts from your phone. Stop following people on social media unless you genuinely receive value from their posts and updated. Unsubscribe from email lists you’re no longer interested in.
Yes, this is hardcore. But you’ll be surprised how much energy these relationships are sucking out of you.
Reclaim your mental space, it’s wasted on relationships that are either completely one-way or stuck in the past. Make way for new and better ones.
4. Get personal.
Make your relationships more personal by actually talking to people. With your voice, not just a keyboard. Pick up the phone, Skype, write a good old-fashioned letter, whatever it takes.
When you communicate directly, it minimises the risk of being misinterpreted. It also creates a strong opportunity to connect with other people at a meaningful level, one of the best stress-antidotes around.
5. Put yourself on pause.
When you get angry, ask whether you will still care this time next week? If not, choose to forgive and/or forget now.
Of course there are times when you can, and should, be angry. But take a moment to decide if this is really one of them. A general rule is that anger only contributes to stress levels, not reducing them.
6. Declutter around, create space inside.
Declutter your home one room at a time. If you like mess, dedicate just one corner to absolute bedlam and indulge your chaos gremlin! Some people do need a place that is unstructured and, shall we say, organic.
But most of us would benefit from cleaning, tidying and mimalising our surroundings. It may be a cliche but the idea of ‘less is more’ is sound. Few would argue that there are emotional benefits to decluttering.
Less stuff, less stress.
7. Utilise the power of scent.
It may be one of the five sense but we don’t always smell in the way we could. It’s well known that there is a relationship between smell and memory and this can be used to counter rising stress levels.
Use smell to create a sense of home comfort – citrus sprays, essential oils, flowers or fresh coffee are all popular choices. Or it could be the dog’s blanket. Or the sweets you had as a kid. Whatever makes you happy.
8. Bring the outside, in.
Even if you love the city and have thumbs of lead, bring a little nature into your home. Plants and flowers rather than worms and beetles but the choice is yours! Stress relief for the eyes. No apartment is too small, just a little bit of green in the corner. Something living, mould doesn’t count.
9. Don’t forget the volume.
Back with the senses and consciously using sound to enhance your home can help create a stress-free space. Old fashioned wind-chimes, modern apps like Noisli or Rainy Mood or just your favourite music will all do the job.
10. Schedule play time.
Pick one place where all forms of work are banned and you are only allowed to do things that you enjoy; read, paint, knot, build the Eiffel Tower out of lego. Be a child, create a time and a place and play.
All too often we spend our time on things that have very little to offer in return (social media, anyone?). Ask yourself if you’re working on something urgent or important?
What would happen if it didn’t get done right now? What would happen if it didn’t get done at all?
Do your best but if a task or activity is stressing you then do only what needs to be done to the standard required.
Good enough is good enough.
12. Tennis balls aren’t just for tennis.
Keep a stress ball near you for the moments you need it most. Manufacturers only continue to make things that sell so somebody somewhere is finding them helpful – why not you?
Pens, rulers and paperclips can all be used to the same end. In fact, all stationery can be utilised for stress-reducing activities.
Smoothing out foil from chocolates or biscuits is particularly useful for this. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
13. Lunch, anyone?
Work should be a day of two halves – use your lunch break and take a break for lunch, not more work. If you’re peopled-out then it’s a great time to go for a stroll alone.
If that’s not possible, then reading a book or listening to music works too. Anything that helps replenish your energy levels. Not only will you feel better, you’ll also get more done in the afternoon this way so it’s a win-win.
14. Make a plan.
If you know you’ve got a difficult conversation coming up, plan for it. Decide what you want to get out of it, what you’re prepared to negotiate and what you’re not. Write it down. Then rewrite it again. It will help you to feel prepared and allow you to enter the conversation in a strong, focused state of mind. A general rule in life is that planning in advance makes everything just a little less stressful.
15. Avoid boredom like the plague!
Boredom is as stressful as overload. If you need more work, ask for it. Need less work? Ask for it. If your request is ignored, it’s time to look for another job!
16. Make a will.
No matter how little you have, make a will. You can’t just assume that when you die, everything will pass to your nearest and dearest. The law is not sentimental and neither are governments. Preparing for the future comes with peace of mind.
17. Small change matters.
Give your small change to charity – they can use it to affect a much bigger positive change than you ever will.
If you really want to know where your money is going, then save it up and buy socks and chocs with it. You’ll know exactly how it was spent and how it was used.
There is no hard sell here and you don’t need much to make a difference. Save up the pennies over the year and when the holidays come round, you’ll have a few presents really worth giving.
18. Don’t suffer in silence.
Money is doubly-stressful when it becomes a problem that’s also a secret. If money is keeping you awake at night, then it’s time to talk to someone and ask for help.
In the UK, there are a number of organisations set up specifically to help with debt/money issues. Stepchange, the Money Advice Service, Money Advice Trust and the Debt Support Trust are all good places to start.
19. Embrace a digital detox.
Switch off the television one day a week. Don’t buy magazines or newspapers for a month. Delete social media apps from your phone. Recent events show that you have no idea how much advertising you’re responding to so limit the access companies have to you.
20. Ditch the label.
Swap branded goods for generic ones, including food and medicines. Play spot the difference.
21. Give yourself a nightly foot massage.
Go to bed an hour earlier. Yes, you read that correctly, an hour earlier. As in, 10pm at the absolute latest.
Just before you turn the light out, give yourself a two-minute foot massage. Pay particular attention to the ball of the foot and the heel or wherever there is tension.
Do both for three nights and together they will likely improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep.
22. Create your own sensory library
Create a mood library of colour, sound, smell and vision to enhance and support a feeling of well-being whenever you need it.
Use Pinterest to create boards of sweeping landscapes or if you’re more old-skool, cut our pictures that inspire or move you and create a vision board.
Or use YouTube to develop a video library of motivational speeches or do whatever worked for you in #7 and/or #9.
23. Practise putting one foot in front of the other.
Combine relaxation and exercise by practising mindful walking. It’s difficult to remain stressed about ‘what may’ be when you’re immersed in ‘what is’.
Don’t beat yourself up if you find your mind racing a lot faster than your legs. Breathe deeply, notice your surroundings and just notice how you feel.
24. Look up.
When you’re stressed, you’re likely to look down a lot. Look up and smile for several seconds. Notice how much harder it is to feel bad?
Added bonus – this can be done anywhere, even the bathroom. You may want to think twice before doing this on public transport but then … why not?
If that’s a step too far, just smile at a stranger. You’ll feel great, they’ll feel great and it’s an instant stress-buster. Smiles all round 🙂
25. And breathe…
When stressed, we inadvertently hold our breath cutting off oxygen to the brain, making it harder to think. Breath in deeply and exhale slowly to encourage clearer thinking. Or try some alternate nostril breathing.
If it’s a ‘lack of’ that’s causing your stress levels to rise, try one or two of the following to get back on track.
26. Volunteer whatever time you can spare. You’ll get back far more than you give and remember that online is fine!
27. Find a class and sign up now. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, it only matters that you start. If you’ve had enough of people after a long day, online courses are the way to go. FutureLearn or edX are both great places to start.
28. Read more. Listen more. Both will result in a happier, more fulfilling life.
29. End each day with a ‘gratitude list’ – what one thing were you grateful for today? Even if today was bad.
30. Write down one sentence that describes your future. Create a plan for the future that excites you.
What Works For You?
So there we have it, 30 tips to help you unwind and manage stress that you can look to implement in your life right now. Are you already practising any of these?
Are any jumping out at you to start including or maybe you have one you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below!